Isaiah 58

True Fasting

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness[a] will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

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Isaiah 58 Commentary

Chapter 58

Hypocrisy reproved. (1,2) A counterfeit and a true fast, with promises to real godliness, and, (3-12) to the keeping the sabbath. (13,14)

Verses 1-2 The Holy Spirit had hypocrites of every age in view. Self-love and timid Christians may say, Spare thyself; dislike to the cross and other motives will say, "Spare the rich and powerful;" but God says, "Spare not:" and we must obey God, not men. We all need earnestly to pray for God's assistance in examining ourselves. Men may go far toward heaven, yet come short; and they may go to hell with a good reputation.

Verses 3-12 A fast is a day to afflict the soul; if it does not express true sorrow for sin, and does not promote the putting away of sin, it is not a fast. These professors had shown sorrow on stated or occasioned fasts. But they indulged pride, covetousness, and malignant passions. To be liberal and merciful is more acceptable to God than mere fasting, which, without them, is vain and hypocritical. Many who seem humble in God's house, are hard at home, and harass their families. But no man's faith justifies, which does not work by love. Yet persons, families, neighbourhoods, churches, or nations, show repentance and sorrow for sin, by keeping a fast sincerely, and, from right motives, repenting, and doing good works. The heavy yoke of sin and oppression must be removed. As sin and sorrow dry the bones and weaken the strongest human constitution; so the duties of kindness and charity strengthen and refresh both body and mind. Those who do justly and love mercy, shall have the comfort, even in this world. Good works will bring the blessing of God, provided they are done from love to God and man, and wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit.

Verses 13-14 The sabbath is a sign between God and his professing people; his appointing it is a sign of his favour to them; and their observing it is a sign of their obedience to him. We must turn from travelling on that day; from doing our pleasure on that holy day, without the control and restraint of conscience; or from indulging in the pleasures of sense. On sabbath days we must not follow our callings, or our pleasures. In all we say and do, we must put a difference between this day and other days. Even in Old Testament times the sabbath was called the Lord's day, and is fitly called so still; and for a further reason, it is the Lord Christ's day, ( Revelation 1:10 ) . If we thus remember the sabbath day to keep it holy, we shall have the comfort and profit of it, and have reason to say, It is good to draw near to God.

Cross References 52

  • 1. Isaiah 40:6
  • 2. S Exodus 20:18
  • 3. S Isaiah 24:20; S Isaiah 48:8
  • 4. S Isaiah 57:12; Ezekiel 3:17
  • 5. S Isaiah 48:1; Titus 1:16; James 4:8
  • 6. S Deuteronomy 32:15; S Psalms 119:87
  • 7. Isaiah 29:13
  • 8. S Leviticus 16:29
  • 9. S Exodus 10:3; S 2 Chronicles 6:37; Jeremiah 44:10
  • 10. Malachi 3:14
  • 11. Isaiah 22:13; Zechariah 7:5-6
  • 12. 1 Kings 21:9-13; Isaiah 59:6; Jeremiah 6:7; Ezekiel 7:11; Malachi 2:16
  • 13. S 1 Samuel 8:18; Isaiah 59:2; Lamentations 3:44; Ezekiel 8:18; Micah 3:4
  • 14. Zechariah 7:5
  • 15. 1 Kings 21:27; Matthew 6:16
  • 16. S Isaiah 36:6
  • 17. S Job 2:8
  • 18. Joel 2:12-14
  • 19. Nehemiah 5:10-11
  • 20. S Deuteronomy 14:29; Isaiah 61:1; Jeremiah 34:9; Amos 4:1; S Luke 4:19
  • 21. S Isaiah 9:4
  • 22. S Job 22:7; Ezekiel 18:16; Luke 3:11
  • 23. Isaiah 16:4; Hebrews 13:2
  • 24. Job 31:19-20; S Matthew 25:36
  • 25. S Genesis 29:14; Luke 10:31-32
  • 26. S Job 11:17; S Isaiah 9:2
  • 27. S Isaiah 1:5; S Isaiah 30:26
  • 28. S Isaiah 26:2
  • 29. S Exodus 14:19
  • 30. S Psalms 50:15
  • 31. S Job 8:6; S Isaiah 30:19; Daniel 9:20; S Zechariah 10:6
  • 32. S Proverbs 6:13
  • 33. Psalms 12:2; Isaiah 59:13
  • 34. Deuteronomy 15:7-8
  • 35. S Isaiah 42:16
  • 36. S Job 11:17
  • 37. S Psalms 48:14; S Isaiah 42:16; S Isaiah 48:17
  • 38. S Psalms 104:28; S Psalms 107:9
  • 39. S Psalms 68:6
  • 40. S Psalms 72:16
  • 41. S Song of Songs 4:15
  • 42. S Isaiah 35:7; John 4:14
  • 43. S Isaiah 49:8
  • 44. S Isaiah 44:28
  • 45. Nehemiah 2:17
  • 46. S Exodus 20:8; Isaiah 56:2
  • 47. Psalms 37:4; Psalms 42:4; Psalms 84:2,10
  • 48. Isaiah 59:3
  • 49. S Job 22:26
  • 50. S Deuteronomy 32:13
  • 51. Psalms 105:10-11
  • 52. S Isaiah 1:20

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "your righteous One"

Chapter Summary


From the wicked and antichristian party the prophet is bid to turn to the professors of the true religion, and openly, boldly, and sharply, reprove them for their sins, particularly their hypocrisy and formality in worship, Isa 58:1,2, who yet were angry, and complained that the Lord took no notice of their religious services, particularly their fasting, which is put for the whole; the reason of which was, because they did not fast aright; it was attended with much cruelty, strife, and wickedness, and only lay in external appearances, Isa 58:3-5, when they are directed how to keep a fast, and are shown what a true fast is, and what works and services are acceptable to God, Isa 58:6,7 on doing of which, light, health, prosperity, and hearing of their prayers, are promised, provided the yoke of oppression is taken away, and compassion shown to the poor, Isa 58:8-10, yea, a very fruitful and flourishing estate of the soul is promised, and a rebuilding of waste places, delight in the Lord, and great honour and dignity; so be it that the sabbath of the Lord, or public worship, is attended to in a proper manner, Isa 58:11-14.

Isaiah 58 Commentaries

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